Did DAR chief just ask journalists to act as their ‘asset’ vs. agrarian anomalies?

Published April 16, 2021, 3:50 PM

by Betheena Unite

Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) Secretary Brother John Castriciones has appealed to media practitioners to help the agency in its mission to end the illegal conversion of lands under the country’s agrarian reform program.

Agrarian Reform Secretary John R. Castriciones (DAR via PNA / FILE PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN)

“Be our eyes and ears as we carry out our mandate of bringing social justice in the countryside,” Castriciones told media men during a press briefing in Koronadal City Wednesday, April 14.

Believing that the media is key to the agency’s goal, the secretary encouraged journalists to report anomalies on the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) in their respective regions so that the agency can “correct the mistakes and punish the individuals who are violating the law.”

“We want you to become our partners in uplifting the lives of our farmers. It defeats the purpose of our mandate if anomalous activities such as the illegal conversion of lands or other injustices to small farmers are being committed,” Castriciones said.

He further said that the agency will help protect media practitioners by asking the police to watch over them if they are being harassed by the suspected perpetrators.

“We have no police powers but we can ask the Philippine National Police (PNP) to protect you. DAR personnel always experience harassment and even face legal suits filed by powerful landowners, but they still do their job to help the farmers despite the risk. I hope that you would do the same for our farmers,” Castriciones said.

DAR recently stumbled upon the alleged illegal conversion of seven agrarian areas in Bulacan which the agrarian reform chief called an “insult” to the department.